Adventures in Pinhole


So I’ve recently been augmenting my photography adventures with something a bit more artistic. By creating my own pinhole lenses to place on my Canon 5D MarkII, I’ve been able to do some experimentation without having to buy film. In the old days of film, you would create a pinhole camera out of an out-meal box or a make something out of wood. Then placing a sheet of light sensitive paper (usually 4”x5”) inside, you’d walk around making exposures and running back inside a darkroom to develop them. Thus, many pinhole photographs are done within a short distance of a darkroom.

By turning a digital SLR into a pinhole camera, you can take shots anywhere you want. You can also see instantly an idea of what the shot will look like on the camera’s LCD. For those not familiar with pinhole photography, the principals are easy to explain. The camera is nothing more than a dark box where the sensor (or film) sits waiting to be exposed to light. You place a lens in front of it and expose it. The only difference is that a pinhole lens is usually made from a thin sheet of metal with the tiniest of holes pricked into it. The smaller the hole the sharper the image, however the hole will never be as sharp as engineered lens glass. The light that goes through the pin-prick reverses and projects onto the sensor (or film) and makes an exposure.

Most pinhole photographs have a certain look about them that’s caused by the irregularities in the material used and how perfect the round hole thats created. Thus many images have a soft halo or blurry look in pinhole images. Many pinhole photographs also seem to vignette around the edges.

This photograph was a nice surprise when I took it. Since the ƒ-stop is so tiny on these lenses, most of the exposures have to be longer in order to get enough light. I decided to take some shots while I was going for a walk to see how that would affect the shot. Like a pastoral landscape, this exposure has lots of color, but soft undulating lines that give the whole thing a watercolor effect. I’m happy with it.

Here are a few more shots I took at night and turned into B&W artistic interpretations:

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